June 5, 2006
My rear wheel was flat again when I woke up, so I spent the whole morning working on some mechanical issues. I was expecting this to happen soon – on the wheel I had the last of the two tubes that I picked up in Williamsburg that didn’t fit correctly. So I had to fix that. Now I’m worried about the durability of the tire itself – it has seen some wear and tear from being pried off and on so much, and the sides near the bead are weak from riding on it with low pressure for a few days.
I wanted to take a look at the front wheel too. I noticed a rattling sound yesterday, and saw that a spoke was quite loose. I went ahead and tightened it, but this messed up the tension of the whole wheel. It started to wobble and drag on the brake pad. I’m not a bicycle mechanic and don’t have any experience truing wheels, so I gave myself a little crash course. Basically you have to adjust the tension of each individual spoke until you establish a balance among them. It’s a matter of trial-and-error until the wheel is properly balanced and turns straight – easier said than done for me. It took me a bit of time to get it running smoothly again, but it still wasn’t perfect.
After spending a lot of time this morning those repairs, I stopped at a library to take a look at my journal and email… so I didn’t start riding until mid afternoon. The weather was considerably cooler and cloudy, but dry. The wind was annoying at times. It’s also the first day I’ve ridden in anything more than a T-shirt – it was a little chilly so I put on my long-sleeved shirt too.
Since crossing the Appalachians I’ve been riding southwest in what’s called the “Great Valley” region, generally following interstate I-81. The Iroquois natives used this as a passage to the south when raiding Virginia-area tribes. The same corridor was later used by pioneers heading for Daniel Boone’s Kentucky, and even later, Stonewall Jackson’s armies. It’s a beautiful valley, and I’m still close to the Appalachian Trail. It’s often “visible” on a ridge to the east.
Most of what I see over the course of a day is farms, horses, cows, fields, streams, train tracks, and big sprawling old trees. I’ve stopped taking pictures of some of this because after a while it all looks the same, but it’s absolutely beautiful country.
I passed through the Troutville/Daleville area, and rode by the Troutville post office, where I had a mail-drop 5 years ago on the Appalachian Trail. I remember sending home my winter sleeping bag from there.
Then I rode on to the small town of Catawba. Also along the Appalachian Trail, I’d heard where there was a fun hiker hostel in Catawba for the past few years. I bumped into some Appalachian Trail hikers there at the general store, which was a fun meeting in itself. They gave me exact directions to the place.
It was about 8pm when I found the home and knocked on the door. Soon a guy came out and said he used to house hikers and bikers in the shed out back, but that was when he was single… now he has an alpaca farm (And apparently a wife who doesn’t want vagrant travelers hanging around – fair enough).
It was getting late, so I inquired about just tenting out, and he said, “Yeah, probably, let me just make sure it’s okay with the wife.” He went inside and I could hear a female voice go “No!” He mumbled something, and again loud and clear I heard “No! I don’t want some (Indecipherable expletives).”
So I remembered that there’s a restaurant nearby that used to let hikers stay in a gazebo on the property. I rode on over there, and it was closed (As expected on a Sunday), but there was a guy out back, hosing off some floor mats or something. I asked him how to get in touch with the owner/manager, and he pointed me to the house right next door. I went next door, rang the doorbell, and the guy came out and said “Sure, you can stay there.” My conversation with the owner was only about 20 seconds, but it landed me a sweet gazebo to camp at for the night. Life is good.
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Google Map route may not be 100% accurate.